Lars-Peter Søbye, chairman of the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) and CEO at consultancy firm COWI, made the comments at last week’s DI Business Summit in Copenhagen, writes dibusiness.dk.
“At a time when public sentiment and populism dominate the political agenda and people wage shouting matches on social media, it’s more important than ever that we keep a cool head and that we as business leaders keep the conversation alive,” Søbye said.
“We must both listen and offer considered opinions to ensure that we make sounder decisions that benefit both welfare and growth,” he added.
While expressing concern about the increasingly protectionist leanings of world leaders, the CEO also stressed that, from a Danish perspective, there is much to celebrate.
“We currently find ourselves in a situation where we have almost no unemployment in Denmark. We have more than 2.7 million employees at work in the Danish labour market – the highest rate yet,” Søbye said.
“The biggest threat to growth is not a lack of orders but a lack of hands and minds. This is an extremely strong starting point. But it is necessary that we take action now in order to ensure a strong future,” he added.
“We need to be better at making the most of everyone. And here, all of us – businesses, politicians, public authorities and individuals – have a big responsibility,” Søbye said during a panel discussion later in the event.
He also noted that politicians and businesses should work together to attract and retain foreign talent.
“We need an explicit talent strategy that offers people attractive career opportunities. We know that there is too little knowledge of Denmark abroad, and it is therefore necessary that we become better at showing off Denmark’s strengths, both at home and abroad,” he said.
“We can pride ourselves on the proximity we have between leaders and employees, our work-life balance and the fact that Denmark is a safe, clean and attractive country with a good welfare system. We need to make this more widely known,” the CEO added.
In his speech at the conference, DI’s CEO Karsten Dybvad said that Denmark was in “intense competition” with other countries in attracting skilled foreign professionals.
“We will not solve Denmark’s integration problems by closing the doors to skilled foreign workers who come here to work and contribute from day one,” Dybvad said.
“Foreign professionals bring competencies that open possibilities for companies to secure new orders,” he continued.
“We are in intense competition with Germany, Sweden and many other countries to attract the best professionals to come here, from Europe and the rest of the world. We must do all we can,” he said.